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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Argentina can dig in but South Africa should prove too strong

New coaches aiming to turn around fortunes in Durban

South Africa claimed the series spoils against England in June
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Rugby Championship
Sky Sports Action, 4.05pm Saturday

The Springboks and Pumas set out on their Rugby Championship campaign in Durban with new coaches at the helm looking to turn round their fortunes after disappointing runs, and hosts South Africa look far further down the road to redemption.

The Boks' only two wins in last year's championship came against Argentina, as they were held to draws in both games against Australia.

A modest summer was followed by a modest autumn, featuring defeats to Ireland and Wales, and that was the end for coach Allister Coetzee as Rassie Erasmus left the top job at Munster to take the helm and steered his side to a series win over England.

There was a lot to like about South Africa's performance in June but new Argentina coach Mario Ledesma looks to have a far tougher task in raising spirits in his squad.

Winless in last season's Rugby Championship, the Pumas were twice beaten at home by a second string Wales side in June before falling to a 44-15 hammering at the hands of Scotland.

That was enough to spell the end for coach Daniel Hourcade, and national treasure Ledesma has stepped up from Super Rugby outfit Los Jaguares, whom he led to their first quarter-final in this year's campaign.

The former hooker inherits a side who haven't won a fixture in this tournament since beating the Springboks in June 2016, since when they have played 23 Tests winning just three - against Japan, Georgia and Italy.

Ledesma will no doubt make his mark on the team and we can expect to see a rugged, physical approach, but it's probably too soon to expect an upturn in fortunes.

South Africa seem ready for a physical onslaught at Kings Park having named Handre Pollard at fly-half over the flair of Elton Jantjies, and no Springbok pack has ever taken a backward step at home.

Los Pumas look sure to attempt to grind this out but the Boks ought to have too much at home. The handicap is set in the mid-teens, which may just be too high, but a bet on a home win by 11 to 20 points looks a decent value call.

South Africa to win by 11 to 20 points
1pt 13-5 Betfair, Coral, Ladbrokes

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There was a lot to like about South Africa's performance in June but new Argentina coach Mario Ledesma looks to have a far tougher task
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